Vivi Tolani
2014 Keller Entrepreneurship Academy Fellow

Vivi Tolani MD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Thoracic Oncology (Surgery) at the University of California, San Francisco. She is passionate about cancer research and has more than six years of experience in the field, including breast, cervical, ovarian, hematological and lung malignancies. She has three years of biotechnology industry experience and a master’s degree (thesis work conducted at the National Cancer Institute).

About the 2014 Keller Entrepreneurship Academy Fellowship

The Keller Entrepreneurship Academy Fellows Fund was established in 2014 with the generous support of Barry and Lynda Keller, through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation.

The fund fosters a collaborative approach to entrepreneurship by training innovative engineers, scientists and technologists to commercialize their research and, as a result, strengthen the Sacramento entrepreneurs’ network. Preference is given to women researchers in science and engineering and/or researchers from an interdisciplinary background.

In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.

I am interested in developing therapies for lung cancer patients that  increases survival rates by 25 percent.                                      

What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it? 

I have experience with both small molecule inhibitors and antibody therapies for cancer. I hope to combine the two to create a more potent combination.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

Translating my research into therapies for cancer patients.

The most important thing you learned at the UC Entrepreneurship Academy?

Do the $5 experiment before the $50 experiment before the $500 experiment. 

The most unexpected?

Market research and addressing customer needs are way more important than making a product that that the researcher thinks everyone will want.

Next steps?

Working on them!

As a women entrepreneur, do you have any insight, experience or concern you’d like to share?

Women make fantastic entrepreneurs and can be open to feedback. This quality is important to VCs, as they invest not only in the idea but also in the person. In addition, I have come across women who are serial entrepreneurs and still manage to have a family life—so it is possible!